On Saturday May 14th the Humpty Dumpty Institute led a senior group of Congressional Staffers (see participant list) to Cairo, Egypt to see firsthand the current state of affairs for a nation in transition.
Shortly after the delegation arrived in Egypt the participants attended a screening of a short documentary called, “Egypt: After the Revolution” by the European-North African Institute (IEAN). The film portrayed the feeling of the Egyptian people before and after the revolution and stressed the people’s desire for freedom, justice, and democracy. The documentary also expressed the Egyptian people’s uncertainty as they wait to see how the new post revolutionary Egypt will develop.
The delegation had an early start Monday morning with a private meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Margret Scobey. Ambassador Scobey briefed the group on the views of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo as they relate to the ongoing transition. Following Ambassador Scobey the delegation was briefed by Mr. David Risley, U.S. Department of Justice Attache’ in Cairo. Mr. Risley gave an overview of the Egyptian judiciary system and prepared the group for their following meeting with the Egyptian Public Prosecution Office.
The delegation then departed for their meeting with Counselor Hisham El Darandaly in the International Cooperation Division of the Public Prosecution Office. The meeting reviewed the role of Egypt’s Public Prosecutor and its commitment to the rule of law and corruption initiatives. In addition, the question of how investigations regarding former government officials was addressed and the importance that there be a transparent and open process for any prosecutions.
Following the Public Prosecution Office, the staffers concluded the day’s meetings with a working lunch to hear about the activities of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Mr. James Rawley, Deputy Director, UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery and Ms. Mona Hammam, Deputy Regional Director, UNDP, were in attendance. Mr. Rawley discussed the new difficulties in providing aid in Egypt’s current state. He also mentioned that Egypt’s suffers from a lack of access to a clean water supply. Ms. Hammam described the vast amount of work UNDP is pursuing in Egypt from election and anti-corruption support to providing assistance to displaced Egyptians.
Tuesday morning started with a meeting with the Charge’ of the Embassy of Italy, Minister Andrea Orizio. The presentation at the Italian Embassy was included to give the delegation the perspective of an EU Member Nation with long historical ties to Egypt. Minister Orizio gave the staffers a view of the cultural changes that occurred in Cairo. Minister Orizio answered questions regarding how Italy hopes impact developments in the new Egypt. Next, the delegation headed to Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The staffers meet with Ambassador Wafaa Basim, Ambassador Hossam Zaki, and Ms. Laila Bahey. The briefing highlighted the difficulties for the Ministry while the government is under change. The staffers also sought to understand what role the Ministry would like to see from the U.S. and other governments regarding their relationship with Egypt.
Next the staffers were hosted to a working lunch by the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) in Egypt. The lunch gave the staffers a forum to discuss what the new relationship could now be between the U.S. and Egypt regarding commercial opportunities. AMCHAM stressed tourism must return for Egypt’s economy to regain strength. The delegation noted they saw the dire need for tourist by the near empty pyramids they had visited the prior day.
Following lunch, the delegation proceeded to the last meeting of the trip. They met with Ms. Nataliya Apostolova, Deputy Head of the European Union in Egypt. Ms. Apostolva expressed the EU perspective on the recent events in Cairo and explained how the EU has always supported democratic reform for Egypt. The delegation returned to D.C. the next day with a greater understanding of the current challenges Egypt faces as they move towards a new government.
Funding for this trip was made possible by a grant from Danieli Steel which also participated in the planning and execution of the visit.
Daniel Harsha – Foreign Legislative Advisor to Rep. Howard Berman and Professional Staff
on the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Dave Richmond – Legislative Assistant, Representative Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa)
Julie Nickson – Chief of Staff, Representative Lee (D-CA)
Glenn Rushing – Chief of Staff, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-CA)
Stephen Lassiter – Legislative Advisor, Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Marilyn Davis – Chief of Staff, Representative Bass (D-CA)
Tasha Cole – Chief of Staff, Representative Frederica Wilson (D-FL)